Unlike previously, this time we ran. We packed up the station wagon and fled the coast, inland to Abeline where we could stay with family.
The kids packed stuffed animals, games and clothes. Lou packed her clothes and toiletries, books, and snacks for the road trip. I grabbed a wooden box with oil paints, turps, brushes and pallet knives. I gently set in a freshly stretched canvas with two coats of gesso. We had been listening to the radio tracking the progress of the storm all morning. We had the car packed and were ready to go about an hour before we made the decision to actually go. When we left, the only thing remaining to grab was the cat. Everything else we owned was left behind, at the mercy of the hurricane gods.
We drove NNW through San Antonio for about seven hours and when we pulled into my Mother-in-Law’s driveway I was a wreck. Driving that far in a station wagon with two kids, under the age of ten and a fucking cat, roaming free through the vehicle is not relaxing or restful. Top the drive off with worries and fears for the abandoned material things and the business – my psyche had been left strung pretty tight that evening. I’m sure we visited and ate something before putting the kids to bed and retiring ourselves but I remember none of that. I didn’t sleep; I sat in the kitchen smoking. I twisted the radio dial back and forth to follow the progress of the storm.
About 2:30 Lou came out from the bedroom. “Why don’t you paint,” she suggested. “That usually relaxes you.” Good advice, why hadn’t I thought of that? Clearly, I wasn’t thinking well. I grabbed my supplies and set up in the den. I had forgotten my table easel and pallet. No matter, pull a table to the wall and leaned the canvas against it, a piece of tempered masonite for mixing paints and I stared at the canvas. Finally I picked up my pallet knife and used it to lay in several shades of blues, on top of ‘lamp black’ and ‘zinc white’. The resultant contrasts and textures of blacks, whites, greys, and blues pleased me. The weather man reported that the storm had hit land and I paused to listen. I abandoned my work in progress to listen to the radio, make coffee and start breakfast for the kids. The excess turps I unthinkingly used to mix the pigments caused the paints to run ever so slightly downwards.
I didn’t get back to it until after lunch. By that time we had received word that our house and my gallery were unscathed by the storm. The stormy sky that I had laid on the canvas was dark and dripped due to my careless use of the turpentine, but my mood had lightened. Eventually, the painting did too.
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